I almost didn’t see the sunrise. I had several headaches the previous day, plus I didn’t want to face that huge parking lot pre-sunrise and get lost alone in the dark. Eventually I decided it can’t be that I came all the way from Israel to the Grand Canyon to miss one of the world’s greatest nature surprises. So I got up at 5ish AM and made my way towards the Bright Angel Lodge, where I was to meet Reuben and watch the sunrise. Turns out he had come to my lodge to pick me up before I even left, which I discovered once I was already on my way, so we ended up meeting half way.
At the Bright Angel Lodge, we were told the previous night that sunrise would be at 6:40 AM. At 6:20, there were already pink and purple lights in the sky and the road was lit by sun light. The Grand Canyon was amazing, yet I was disappointed that I had woken up so early and missed the famous sunrise effects.
Only I didn’t miss them. At 6:42, we noticed the first golden spot on the canyon, the reflection of the sun’s rays. As we moved along the rim, as we stopped to admire and take photos, more and more shadowed areas found themselves lit by golden lights. There weren’t many people out, so there was relatively plenty of space to indulge in the magic. I had seen sunrises before, yet never with such an effect, and it was fascinating to watch.
Close to us at one of the view points near Bright Angel Lodge were two parents and a son. Apparently the son is a soldier, and I contemplated, yet I ended up bringing up Israel, and it started a surprisingly fun conversation.
After that, Michele, Reuben and I went to eat breakfast, then took an hour for errands and such. Later, we checked out of our hotels and headed towards the iMAX theatre to watch an iMAX about the Grand Canyon. My thought was that knowing more about the canyon would enrich the experience of visiting it. The movie was delayed by a couple of minutes, in my opinion because more and more people came in until the theatre was almost 100% full (get in early: you buy a ticket, yet cannot choose a seat while purchasing). During those couple of minutes, there was music on, which Reuben explained was Navajo music. The Navajos are the biggest Native American tribe in the United States. Theta was fun and the movie was interesting, yet The movie mostly disappointed me. It detailed the challenges Western people faced in conquering the canyon, yet mentioned nothing about the geology, about how the different layers and colors and magnitude and valleys were formed.
In any case, it was time to return to the real thing. We went back on the red route bus. The busses are all colored in the same colors, yet you can see it says on the front top “red route”, “blue route”, etc. We got off at Hopi point (I think) and took a 3/4 of a mile – or less than 1.5 kilometers – hike. Michele and Reuben are in fantastic shape, and a few years ago they hiked up and down the south rim of the Grand Canyon, yet yours truly is used to spending more time sitting than hiking (university, work, university, studying at home), so they were considerate.
We took our time in that hike, my guess is it might have been my fault. I was so fascinated by every new corner I discovered, I couldn’t stop admiring and taking pictures. It keeps happening to me. The world is so beautiful. We hiked very, very close to the edge and there is no barrier, so an extra dose of carefulness is required.
Reuben had read a book about all the people who died at the Grand Canyon. It was written by two people whose job was to save all the people who get stuck at the canyon. He says that they write that there are no new mistakes, just new people making the same mistakes all over again. If you have ever worked with customers, you might relate to this….
One of the biggest mistakes was standing way too close to the edge to get the perfect photo. Worse than that is crossing a barrier when there is one, to stand even more on the edge. Apparently, one of the biggest risk factors is being a man in your twenties, more so if you’re there in a group with other men in their twenties. Socialization in Western culture many times teaches men to take greatest physical risks than women, and encourages them to show off themselves as machos. The result, as far as the Grand Canyon is concerned, is apparently more deaths for men than women. And this is only one example of how chauvinism is really bad for men. Chauvinism puts men in power positions over women in many areas of this society, yet in reality, similarly to women, they are pushed to one little physical, emotional and intellectual frame, out of which they are considered less men.
The hike proved to me what I discovered the previous day: the Grand Canyon area was filled with trees. During our hike, we saw uniquely shaped trees that kept surprising us. They were shaped like that because of the wind.
After our hike, we started our drive to Page, also in the state of Arizona. After eating dinner and giving me my first tour of Wal-Mart (a gigantic department store with everything from food to Barbie dolls to guns), we went to check me in at my motel. Originally, I had counted on the hostel that keeps popping up on Google searches, yet when it was time to book, I discovered the hostel was closed three or so years ago, and there is no other hostel. At a time when expenses seemed to be way larger than expected, and new expensed kept revealing themselves to me, I decided that paying 80-100 US dollars for a one night stay (and we were going to stay for three nights, then cut it to two) was not a budget possibility. I read reviews of every cheap place I could find online. There were about two. One seemed relatively sane, if I was lucky. It was 40 something dollars a night, taxes included, and that price sounded worth feeling uncomfortable for two nights – as long as I was safe.
Throughout the day, I started getting a really bad feeling, and as we drove to the motel in the dark, we discovered this shady neighborhood. At least in the dark, we didn’t even feel safe to park the car there for a minute and google other possibilities without leaving the car.
Therefore we stopped elsewhere, got a 50 something dollar plus tax offer on a Motel 6 room and headed there. I asked to see the room before paying, and as the room appeared clean and safe, I still wanted to compare its price to another motel’s. Motel 6 charges you an extra 2-3 dollars for WiFi, plus doesn’t provide breakfast, which means that would be an extra expense too. However, this other motel we found seemed to keep us waiting on the line for more time than we expected, so I made the decision to stick with Motel 6, and so I did.
I am so grateful to have had Michele and Reuben there. That could have been a much worse experience than the previous night, and it could have been way more challenging to find and make it to another place.
Motel 6 was clean and comfortable, and served my needs. The paid Internet connection kept disconnecting, even if I was still in the room. Reconnecting was extremely easy and problem-free, yet it was a bit annoying to have that happen even though I paid extra for a service every hostel gives for free. It could be that they had a bad connection the two days I was there, these things happen. In general, it was $40-50 a night cheaper from another safe alternative I knew about, and it was good to me.